In 2019, I went to Santa Catalina, Panama for what was supposed to be 2 weeks. I stayed for 6 weeks.
Santa Catalina is remote — the closest ATM machine is in a town one-hour’s drive. The only food store in town is the equivalent of a NYC bodega, and on a good day it’s like a bodega before a snow storm. There is no mail delivery there, let alone Amazon Prime.
When you go to a place for 2 weeks and stay for 6, you inevitably run low on supplies.
My 6 weeks in Santa Catalina helped me create awareness about my consumption habits and what I previously took for granted. For example, I learned how to squeeze every last drop of eye cream from a tube. From a tube that I might have otherwise discarded, I extracted more than a week’s worth of cream.
Each week I’d make friends with the people who arrived for their retreats. Before they left, I’d ask them for any toiletries they hadn’t finished and didn’t want to carry back. I was grateful for their half-full mini shampoo bottles and almost finished tubes of toothpaste that carried me through.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently as I’ve read about the anxiety over supply chain shortages, and as we enter the holiday of Chanukah, which begins tonight.
At least in America, we are spoiled. Accustomed to fully-stocked shelves and abundant supplies that can be delivered to our door the next day, we don’t always consider the rate at which we consume — and how much useable stuff we throw away. When it’s easy to replace things or get fresh supply, we don’t think about using all that we have.
Chanukah is the eight-day festival of lights that may be one of the earliest “supply chain issues” on record.
In the second century, B.C., after defeating the powerful Greek army to reclaim the Holy Temple, the Jews returned to find it ransacked and destroyed. The oil used to light the Temple’s Menorah had been defiled. There was only one small vial of oil remaining — only enough to last for one night.
Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight nights, enough time to produce a fresh batch of pure oil.
As I light the candles this week, I’m creating an invitation to myself to bring new light to my consumption habits.
- Where am I discarding things that still have life to them?
- What resources am I not using to their fullest capacity?
- What resources am I taking for granted?
- Where am I perceiving myself as being in “lack” when really I have a sufficient supply?
Constraints and limitation are the parents of creativity and innovation.
The miracle of sufficiency is not a thing that happened in another time and place. It is happening right now. We need only be willing to see it.